A multi-disciplinary designer’s journey in field recording, sound design, and music.

Lighthouse Winds

Posted: April 22nd, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: field recording, gear, nature recording, sound design

lighthouseBaja

My past winter holiday involved a sea kayak crossing to Las Islas de Los Todos Santos, a pair of islands four nautical miles offshore of Ensenada, México. We were greeted – and partied with – a nearly toothless lighthouse keeper, and slept in an old lighthouse built in the 1930′s.

We had two days of 15-25 knot winds, and as you might imagine, a lighthouse is a roughshod place. The winds were howling through the old windows and making amazing sounds.

Only one problem: I had a small sea kayak with no room to even pack a handheld field recorder. As I’ve said many times before, the best field recorder is the one you have with you, and this case, my only option was my iPhone. In glorious, shimmering mono.

Today’s sound are of these howling winds, recorded with the Voice Memos app on iOS. I’m not about to make a habit of using my iPhone as a field recorder, even with aftermarket microphones, but hopefully this goes to show that sometimes you do the best with what you have. Especially if the sounds and location are literally once-in-a-lifetime events.

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Whistling Wind from Where?!?

Posted: February 2nd, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: field recording, sound design
Look cold? Good. It was!

Look cold? Good. It was!

This Mordor-looking photo shows Mono Pass in California’s Sierra Nevada mountain range. 12,000′/3,657m high, we crossed it in August, but we still got snowed, rained, and hailed on, and the winds were definitely in the 40mph range. A forbidding place, an intense day, and freakin’ cold to boot.

I remember the sound of the wind, especially, howling in my ears but also sometimes between spaces between rocks. Very distinctive, almost like the wind that you hear in movies.

I had to travel almost halfway around the world to a cute cottage in a summery, temperate rainforest to actually record wind that sounded like that.

Staying at a lodge along New Zealand’s Queen Charlotte Track on the South Island, a huge southerly wind kicked up around dusk and made this great whistling sound through our bedroom windows. What luck! Rather than be outside in an actual gale, I could position my recorder right near the sound source – tiny gaps between the windows – while having the windows themselves completely protect the microphones from the wind itself. I changed the perspective of the recording a few times, so rather than futz with it all to match or mess with a multitrack edit for this post, I just crossfaded to silence between each wind gust. You’ll get the idea.

So, just goes to show you: What you record, when, and where, can sometimes have little to do with the mental images one gets from the sounds recorded…which is why I included the photo above and not the nice real picture of tree ferns and sunshine!

Whistling Wind by noisejockey
[Zoom H2 recorder]

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